Understanding BMR: The Magic Number For Weight Loss

Have you noticed that every year it gets harder to eat what you usually do without gaining weight? That is because your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) decreases as you age. And to make it worse, depriving yourself of food lowers your BMR sabotaging your weight loss plans. This article will explain what BMR is, how to calculate it, and how to put this information into action to help you manage your weight at any age.


Your BMR is your magic number when it comes to weight loss. This number represents the number of calories your body needs to function at its most basic level. it's the number of calories you would burn if you were to lie in bed all day. Each person has a different metabolism and therefore, has a different number of calories they can consume and still lose weight. By using the formula outlined below, you will be able to calculate your BMR and get an accurate idea of how many calories you should consume in a day.

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Because calories do count in weight loss, the trick is to reduce the number of calories you consume and increase the number you burn through activity so that you create enough of a deficit to lose weight. You can get in trouble however, if you do not eat enough calories. Your body will go into starvation mode resulting in your metabolism slowing down.

Make sure you consume enough to have the energy to power though a work out, live your best life, and/or be productive at work. Remember, you want to create a deficit, not go into starvation mode.


The BMR calculation is different for men and women and takes into account height, weight, age and gender so it is accurate give or take 100 calories.

Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

Lets walk through an example Let's say we want to know what the BMR is for a woman who is 5 feet 3 inches (63 inches), 158 lbs. and is 48 years old. The formula looks like this:

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)

BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 158) + (4.7 x 63) - (4.7 x 48) = 1,412.8

BMR 1,412.8 represents the number of calories, give or take 100 calories, that this woman burns while in a resting state during a 24 hour period. That means she should eat about 1,413 calories per day to maintain her weight. Remember this number. We will need it later to calculate your daily calorie intake.


Another reason to exercise! When we add exercise into our daily routine we burn additional calories. The longer and harder we exercise the more calories we burn. Having an active job, cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn burns calories! The only way to accurately track how many calories you burn through your day and while you exercise is to wear a heart rate monitor such as many athletes wear when they exercise such as a Polar Fitness Watch. You can figure calorie burn generally, but variable factors include workout intensity, age, gender, weight, and physical fitness. Here are some general guidelines for an hour workout:

Low intensity aerobics = 400 calories High intensity aerobics = 600 calories Walking = 300 calories Running = 1,000 calories Stair climber = 700 calories Hiking = 500 calories.

These are rough estimations so use them as such. The most important piece of information to take from these estimations is that it becomes very obvious that including exercise into your routine is key to accomplishing your caloric deficit.


One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. In order to lose one pound of fat you must create a balance of activity (calorie burn) with eating (calorie intake) to equal a 3,500 calorie deficit. Sounds overwhelming? If you want to lose one pound per week, you must create a 500 calorie deficit per day for seven days. That sounds more achievable, right?

Now, let's apply the math to a goal. Let's use the same woman we used as an example earlier. She wants to lose 15 pounds and she sets a goal of doing it in 3 weeks. To accomplish a 5 pound weight loss per week we must first multiply the number of calories in a pound of fat times the number of pounds to lose per week.

(5 lbs to lose x 3,500 fat calories = 17,500 calories to burn per week or 2,500 per day)

Subtract her daily BMR from her daily calories needed to burn.

(2,500 calories - 1,412.8 BMR = 1,087.2 calorie deficit per day)

So if she eats exactly the calories of her BMR (1,412.8) she would need to burn 1,087.2 calories through activity. If she eats 200 calories less per day, she needs to burn 200 calories less though activity. If she accomplishes this for 3 weeks she will lose 15 pounds of fat. You can see how important it is to know your BMR to plan for weight management success. Be realistic in how many calories you plan to burn through exercise to ensure you eat the proper amount.


It is science - it is not some fancy diet with magic potion. A very important component to keep in mind when applying this scientific fact, is that lean muscle mass weighs more than fat.

The reason this is so imperative to remember is that as you exercise you will gain lean muscle mass, and as you continue to create a calorie deficit you will lose fat. The scale, however, does not distinguish between the two.

Do not get discouraged if the scale does not display the number you want or expect. You must remember that if you follow the formula you are losing pounds of fat. The pay off of trading fat for lean muscle mass is that you will decrease in size because lean muscle is more compact than fat so your actual size will decrease.

Another benefit of gaining lean muscle mass is that metabolically this type of tissue requires more energy so your BMR actually increases as a result of having greater lean muscle mass. Burning more calories while at rest does not sound too bad, does it?


Now that you have the tools to figure out how to exactly achieve your weight loss goal, apply it. Begin the process. Put your own numbers in the formulas. Know what your BMR is so that your weight loss journey is no longer a guessing game.

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